Welcome Church, The Future – Part 4: Autumn Plans

On Sunday (May 8th) we had our Welcome Church Vision Evening. This week I’ll be blogging about some of the key items we covered. This is part 4 of 5. (You can find Part 1 by clicking here)

Plans For The Autumn

One of my favourite places to be on a Sunday morning at Welcome Church is at the Info Point in our Welcome Lounge, where it’s a privilege to meet some of the new people who are joining us week by week. Hanneke and her team run it really well, so huge thanks to all who are involved. 🙂

Recently lots of our new people have been South Africans, which is brilliant, and many others are from the UK and other nations, which is also brilliant! One observation we’ve made is that lots of new people in this season are already Christians; not all, but the majority. It’s great to have many well established Christians joining us who are a blessing to further strengthen us as a church; you are all a gift from God!

Life Transformed Through Jesus

As a church our vision is to see life transformed through Jesus, so of course we have a passion to reach out to those who are not-yet Christians in the town around us. Let’s remember, outreach is God’s plan; the Great Commission is really His mission.

So how can we play our part well?

When it comes to reaching out we have two guiding principles we want to follow:

  1. Everything we do as Jesus’ followers is to be done in LOVE, and that includes every attempt to reach out to people who are not yet Christians. The best way to fulfil Jesus’ GREAT COMMISSION to go and make disciples is through Jesus’ GREAT COMMANDMENT to love people
  2. God calls us to be INTENTIONAL in our relationships, to love people towards Jesus. The end goal for our relationship with our not-yet-Christian friend or colleague is not only friendship (though that’s a great thing!), but for them to come to know Jesus; introducing someone to Jesus is the most loving thing we can ever do for them.

Relational Momentum

We’ve found that one of the best ways to introduce someone to Jesus is to build what we call RELATIONAL MOMENTUM, which simply means them meeting, connecting with, and getting to know other Christians from your church. Since Jesus told us, “You are the light of the world” we should expect him to shine though us, and he shines even more brightly through a group of us together.

An invitation to church given to someone who doesn’t know ANYONE in your church is one thing; the answer may be a yes or a no. But an invite to church given to someone who knows you, has got to know several of your Christian friends from the church, and may even have had contact with your church at an event is far more likely to result in a yes, and that invitation creates a great moment for them to encounter Jesus.

Loving People Towards Jesus

Remember, you can’t save anyone; only God does that. Our role is simply to love people towards Jesus, and the very best way we can bring people to Jesus is by bringing them to church, where they will encounter the Holy Spirit, hear the wonderful truths about Jesus preached, and have an opportunity to respond to Jesus.

As a church, we want to facilitate you loving people towards Jesus, so with this in mind, this Autumn we are relaunching our ..

Hop, Skip and Jump

The last time we did this was in 2019 in the run up to our building launch. The Hop & the Skip was a series of easy invite social events to help us build relational momentum through invitations, leading up to a church invitation for our Building Launch Event:

  • We Hopped with a Fun Day in September 2019 – 1,000 people attended including 500 guests. 460 then signed up to get a free ticket to our Fireworks Night
  • We Skipped with our Firework Night – 2,000 people attended, including 1,700 guests
  • We Sang with our Carol Service For Woking in Dec 2019 – we know singing is usually part of a triple jump, but we slipped it in there because it was too good to miss
  • We Jumped with our ‘Welcome Stories’ Building Launch Sunday on 19th Jan 2020 – Over 1250 people attended, enjoying pastries, coffee and a great time together

Following our Hop, Skip & Jump, our average attendance grew by around 250 people each week, from roughly 500 to 750 people, and many connected to Jesus for the first time … and then 10 weeks later Lockdown hit and a whole load of momentum was lost 😮. But life is increasingly returning to normal, so …

It’s time to do it again: let’s Hop, Skip, (Sing) and Jump

Here’s our Autumn 2022 plan, to give us all the opportunity to bring people in our lives on that journey:

  • HOP: Welcome Church Fun Day, Sat 17th September. I would love all of us to bring friends along; there’s no limit to how many people you can bring. Details will follow soon, but please put the event in your diary now and think about who you might invite, including whole families. Think big!
  • SKIP: Welcome Church FireWorks Night, Sat 5th Nov. Everyone who comes to our Fun Day can receive a free ticket to the Fireworks Night, giving them a 2nd brilliant event with Welcome Church to look forward to, and it’s also a great chance to reach out and invite more new people.
  • SING: A Carol Service For Woking. A great opportunity to invite your friends to enjoy Christmas Carols in our building with mulled wine and mince pies, and who doesn’t love a good carol service?
  • JUMP: The first Sunday of our new Welcome Stories Series, Sun 8th Jan 2023. 

A Triple Jump can take you so much further than trying to make one giant leap, so these Hop, Skip and Jump events will help our friends to connect and come closer to us, leading to that invite moment to the Welcome Stories Sunday in January.

Are you ready to go?

Welcome Stories

Alongside our Hop Skip and Jump we’ll also be launching some new Welcome Stories, one every 2-3 weeks, over this coming Autumn. As we launch them, it’s an opportunity for all of us to share them on Social Media, allowing all of our contacts to see these inspiring stories of God’s impact on the lives of people within Welcome Church.

During our last series of Welcome Stories, most stories had over 10,000 views on Facebook alongside other Social Media, mainly down to the fact that people across Welcome Church clicked “share” to enable their contacts to see them. If you haven’t seen our Welcome Stories then you can access them on this link.  

But don’t wait for the Autumn to get started

In the weeks ahead there will be other opportunities we can take to start building Relational Momentum with people, for example the Jubilee Street Parties and other events talking place over the Queens Platinum Jubilee weekend, or a Life Group social event or perhaps just your own BBQ.

And if you want to know more, why not read, or re-read, Dub Everitt’s excellent book: Loving People Towards Jesus. It’s available from Origin Books in Woking (but if you ask in the Welcome Lounge we’ll probably give you one as a free gift 🙂)

Tomorrow I’ll finish this series of Blog posts by talking about how we can all play our part.

WE’VE LAUNCHED!! … What now?

Hi everyone. Dub Everitt here hijacking Steve’s blog again …

Wow!! What a Launch we enjoyed on Sunday!! It was an absolutely brilliant Sunday morning with hundreds at the 9am meeting and even more at the 11am meeting.

Our band led worship brilliantly, Mike’s Welcome Story stirred emotions across the room and Steve’s talk on the Prodigal Son, encapsulated by the video of Derek Redmond being supported around the track by his Dad, powerfully revealed the incredible heart of God to rush towards us.

And what amazing words we heard from our Architect Paul Ginever, who has been hugely impacted by working with Welcome Church on this project, as well as our Mayor Beryl Hunwicks and our MP Jonathan Lord speaking brilliantly on the impact Welcome Church is making. And then a presentation from Compassion topped it off so well, showing the impact we’re making on mothers and babies in Togo as well.

Oh, did I nearly forget … we were joined by hundreds and hundreds of guests across the morning in the adults meeting, as well as Kids Work and Creche also buzzing with guest kids having a great morning.

white-shuttle-spaceship-takes-on-39603The numbers …

At HG Wells recently we have tended to have roughly 560 to 600 people per week on a Sunday across both meetings, including kids and creche.

Our Launch Sunday saw 1,256 people filling the new building, more than doubling our usual numbers!!! And across the board, all of our guests LOVED IT!!!

What

A

Morning!

The question now is this: we’ve launched (BRILLIANTLY!) so what now?

That Launch Sunday has come, and the Launch Sunday has now gone. We’ve done all we can to invite and bring guests. Hundreds came, hundreds went away upbeat and impacted.

And three days later, our big Launch moment is now in the past. So, what next for us individually and as a church? Back to “business as usual”, whatever that may mean to us?

NOOOOOOOO!!!
I believe that what we’ve seen is something God wants to inspire us with. We CAN bring guests to church. They WILL love it. God WILL impact them. This can happen EVERY WEEK. Remember, this is about God changing people’s lives.

We’ve had a taste of what being an inviting church feels like, and the impact it has on those we bring. And God has a big encouragement for us:

“Do it again!”

So, as we look back on our Launch, and also look forward to “Welcome Stories week 2” this coming Sunday and the rest of this 6-week series, there are two encouragements I have for ALL OF US…

1. If you brought guests last Sunday, invite them again this Sunday!

This is an invite we can all make with confidence. We know they’re positive, and they now know what to expect.

But the reality is, only the boldest of our friends will contact us to say, “Please can I come next week?” Many, however, if they were re-invited, may well say “Yes!” So let’s re-invite them. And if they can’t make it this Sunday, see if the following Sunday works.

This doesn’t mean being pushy. But it does mean recognising it will take another invite for our friends to come, so it’s up to us to make the invite.

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2. If you didn’t bring guests last Sunday, the invite door hasn’t closed until our next Building Launch in another 40 years!!!

You may’ve invited people to the Launch and they couldn’t make it. Me and Tanya had 5 families who couldn’t come last Sunday but said, “We’d like to come another time.” We now need to follow up to say, “The Launch was amazing, a shame you couldn’t make it. What Sunday suits you? How about next Sunday?”

You may’ve not got round to inviting, or didn’t feel brave enough to invite. Well, after witnessing how brilliant Sunday was, and experiencing the incredible buzz of hundreds of new people thinking, “Wow! I wasn’t expecting church to be like that!” – I know you’ve now gained the confidence to think, “I can invite, because it’s brilliant!”

A second wave

Our Launch Sunday was a new ‘high water mark’ for us. In our Prayer Meeting on Tuesday morning, Tony Lynch brought a prophetic word about a 2nd wave, specifically of those who DIDN’T come to the Launch, but who we can invite again over the coming weeks and who will say yes!

I believe this is a word from God to nudge us and build our faith to go again.

You and I now know: if my friends come, they’ll really enjoy it. And God will impact them. So let’s make those invites.

God is at work

He’s working through you and me to reach out to our friends, and as they come to church with us over these Sundays He’s at work through His church as well.

I felt God remind me recently that a key role He has for us is to be door-openers – for us to open the door to introduce people to Jesus. From there, Jesus will do what He does – save and transform people! And that’s something we are all called to be a part of: leading people to Jesus, seeing lives changed, seeing Jesus get the glory.

Our invitations to church over these coming Sunday’s are us looking to open that door. So let me encourage you: let’s all make those return invites and those first-time invites, let’s pray and let’s see what God does!

Dub Everitt is Outreach Pastor at Welcome Church.

Launch Sunday … Welcome Church, We Have Lift Off!

On Sunday (19th Jan 2020) Welcome Church marked the official launch of our brand new building in the heart of Woking. We were delighted to see so many people there to celebrate with us.

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Just over 1,200 people attended across the two meetings, and this represents a new ‘high water mark’ for the church. We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who was there including friends old and new and, whether you were there or not, everyone is warmly invited to come and join us next Sunday at 9am or 11am.

So much to pack in

It was a fast paced morning:

  • Our worship team kicked us off in brilliant style with some vibrant worship
  • We then remembered some of our 140 year history of buildings, looking back at our journey so far and forward to our future vision
  • We heard from Paul Ginever, the architect who designed the new building
  • The Mayor of Woking, Councillor Beryl Hunwicks, spoke about the importance of community and working together
  • At the 11am meeting Jonathan Lord MP, Member of Parliament for Woking, was present to share some very kind words of encouragement
  • Then Steve Blow, the Finance Director for Compassion UK, presented Welcome Church with a display board to mark the support given to mothers and babies in Togo through our partnership with them

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My Favourite Thing From Sunday 🙂

You can listen to that part of our meeting by clicking here.

Welcome Stories

This week also marked the start of our six week ‘Welcome Stories’ series. Many of us were deeply moved watching Mike’s Story, which showed the difference that Jesus has made to his life, helping him to get free from depression and more. You can watch his powerful story here:

This video should play, but if not please click here to view it via our church website

Towards the end of the meeting I talked about a question, the answer to which profoundly shapes our lives and daily actions:

“What do you think God is like?”

This talk was based on Jesus’ story of The Prodigal Son, and you can hear it by clicking here. For me, it was a morning to remember.

Please come again

I want to invite everyone who reads this to come and join us at Welcome Church over the next five weeks. We will be continuing our Welcome Stories series, and there will be another powerful Welcome Story video each Sunday.

Consider some fascinating facts about how, on average, we spend our lives…

  • We sleep for over 20 years of our lives
  • We watch TV for over 10 years of our lives
  • We spend 5 years 9 months in some form of transportation
  • We spend 7 ½ years eating and drinking

Why not spend 7 ½ hours over these next five weeks joining us for this Welcome Stories series? It will be a great way to brighten up these gloomy January and February Sunday mornings!

Finally, here are some photos from Sunday morning to enjoy:

 

Merry Christmas – what a year it’s been!

We’ve made it safely to the end of another year (almost), and what a year it’s been for Welcome Church! I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Some highlights

Along the way we’ve built a new building, moved into the annex, held an amazing Gift day, launched Welcome Works, sponsored 141 kids in Togo with Compassion UK, launched The Useful Wood Company, seconded Ben & Nancy to Gateway Church Basingstoke for a while, welcomed Rhea John onto staff, said goodbye to David & Tina Maskell, taken 300 people to Westpoint, finished meeting at the HG Wells Conference Centre, launched and shared our Welcome Stories, published our first book, run an amazing Fun Day, held a fireworks event with around 2000 people, put on a Carol Service for Woking (featuring both the Mayor and our local MP😃) and done a whole lot more too.

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Additionally there’s been the usual, day to day stuff of church life that has carried on, including baptisms, pastoral care, Sunday meetings, worship, preaching, weddings, funerals, kids work, youth work, Life Groups, Alpha courses, ministry to the poor and lots more too.

If you’ve chosen to make Welcome Church your church then we want to say,

“Thank you for being on the journey with us in 2019”.

Looking forward to 2020

2020 is going to be and in incredible year for us. The new building will be launched in January, and there will be many God given opportunities and blessings ahead for us. I’m sure we will also face some big challenges, yet we have a big God who is with us every step of the way. Let’s all start inviting people to the launch event on the 19th.

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Something for us all to do

ImageIf you haven’t done it already, or even if you have, why not take a quiet moment over the next week or so to read Dub’s book, “Caring and Sharing”.

This book is our ‘manifesto for evangelism’ as a church. It’s easy to read, full of great stories and it will only take 1 or 2 hours to read from cover to cover.

I know that if we were all to put the principles in this book into practice in 2020, it would have a huge impact on many lives.

Merry Christmas

I hope you have an amazing Christmas this year, whatever you’re up to. Do take some time out along the way to reflect on the real reason for the season: Jesus coming into the world. Do take time to pray and to thank Him for all he’s done in your life. And I look forward to seeing you all in 2020.

A Carol Service For Woking

On Sunday we had our annual Welcome Church Carol Service for Woking at the HG Wells Conference Centre in the heart of Woking.

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This year we partnered with the Cobham Brass Band who provided the music as we sang traditional carols and heard the Christmas story in several readings. We saw a powerful new Welcome Story from Sue, I talked about Jesus being God With Us (click here to listen), and we finished up with mince pies and mulled wine.

While this took place, at the 4pm service, the kids had an exciting Christmas Party of their own upstairs.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who was involved in serving, and to everyone who gave up their time to attend.

Some highlights for me included:

  • A reading by the newly elected MP for Woking, Jonathan Lord, at the 4pm service
  • A solo rendition of Away In A Manger by Romilly, aged 8
  • Readings at both services by Councillor Beryl Hunwicks, the Mayor of Woking
  • Hearing Cobham Brass Band play some fantastic Christmas numbers before and after each service

If you missed it then you really missed out, but A Carol Service For Woking will be back again next year, and this time we will be in our own new building.

Here are some pics to highlight the event:

Welcome Stories

Over the last few weeks at Welcome Church we’ve launched a brand new initiative called Welcome Stories.

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Welcome Stories are short videos from people in our church whose lives have been impacted for good by Jesus. You can check some of them out on our Welcome Stories website, or you can find them on our Welcome Church Facebook page, our Instagram account or our YouTube channel. There are lots more coming in the weeks ahead.

Sharing

As we launch these stories week by week we want to encourage people to share them to their friends via social media. Liking them is kind of you, but sharing them is actually useful for the gospel!

Please don’t use religious language when you share them, but do perhaps use the hashtag #WelcomeStories.

You can share them on Facebook and Instagram easily by sharing the posts we’ve already made on our Welcome Church pages. You can also share them from You Tube or from the Welcome Stories website onto Twitter and other media.

Why do it?

These videos are about helping people connect to Jesus … and that is already happening. We are already seeing fruit from these stories.

So far over 28,000 people have viewed one of our Welcome Stories. Just imagine the impact we could have in Woking if everyone in our church shared these?

And of course, this is all part of the run up to the launch of our new building on January 19th. It’s part of the invitation process. We will even kick off our new year with a preaching series called “Welcome Stories”.

So let’s get sharing, let’s get praying, and let’s expect God to do big things!

I’ve put a link to one of the stories here – Enjoy!

The video should be visible above, if it’s not then please click here to view it.